As a South Florida product defects lawyer, I was disappointed, along with many other Floridians, to see an Oct. 29 report from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on Chinese drywall. As I have written before, homeowners in Florida and around the U.S. believe the drywall is tainted with chemicals that make residents of the homes sick. A group of federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Consumer Products Safety Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, set out to test that theory. The agencies found elevated levels of some chemicals. But as the Sun-Sentinel reports, the chemical levels found are not associated with human health risks. This answer has disappointed and angered many homeowners who feel driven out of their homes by the drywall.
During the housing boom in the middle of this decade, many builders ran out of American drywall and imported substitutes from China. After moving in, homeowners around Florida and the nation discovered terrible sulfurous smells and health symptoms including persistent headaches, corroded metal, breathing problems, frequent illness and complications of asthma. For some, the problems were so bad that they moved out. In all, the newspaper said, the problems have generated 1,900 complaints from 30 states, including 1,317 from Florida alone. The test results released in October are preliminary, involving just 10 homes in Florida and Louisiana as well as new, uninstalled Chinese drywall. Results of more thorough testing in 50 homes are expected by Thanksgiving.
As the newspaper notes, the federal studies have focused on the health effects of Chinese drywall — not the financial effects on homeowners. But as our Parkland defective product attorneys know, the financial side of the problem is very real for the homeowners who are affected. Those in the article include one woman who is renting, but also paying her mortgage and homeowner’s fees, while waiting for an answer. Another homeowner moved his family into a rental while paying a contractor to rip out and replace their home’s drywall. Not surprisingly, these homeowners are frustrated by the government’s lack of conclusions or support. Florida’s Sen. Bill Nelson (D) has called for FEMA aid, but at the moment, homeowners are stuck being their own rescuers.
Fortunately, the civil courts provide an alternative for frustrated homeowners affected by Chinese drywall. Even if government agencies can’t or won’t take action, homeowners still have the right to sue the builders and suppliers responsible for including the toxic drywall in their homes. Florida law makes all manufacturers legally liable for injuries caused by serious defects in their products, even when they didn’t intend the defect or knowingly allow it to go to market. Cohn, Smith & Cohn can help clients who are struggling to stay afloat financially while maintaining two households sue the manufacturers who put them in this position. In a Boynton Beach defective drywall lawsuit, homeowners can claim not only all of the costs the defective drywall caused, but the resulting loss of home value, the cost of repairs and damages for chronic health problems it may have caused.
If you believe the drywall in your home is toxic and unsafe, you should talk to Cohn, Smith & Cohn right away about your rights and your options. To set up a free, confidential consultation, please call our main office in Hollywood at (954) 431-8100 or contact us through our Web site today.